Its been a while since i blogged – ill health and gloominess have laid waste to my creativity and my desire to express myself.
“I don’t know where I’m running now, I’m just running on”
Just when i felt i was getting into proper training for the Dublin Marathon – selected to be my first ever marathon – illness struck. Firstly in the last week of June i developed a chest infection and failed to run/walk a paltry 2.6km without sweating and developing stomach cramps. My immune system is like an Irish summer – generally poor with bad spots and worse days.
When i get sick, i stay sick – generally.
Then my IBS kicked in and i was down and nearly out – for the month of July.
“Running on, running on empty“
My local parkrun at Marlay Park didn’t happpen for two weeks due to music concerts but i didn’t have the energy or the enthusiasm to venture elsewhere – the weeks were drifting by and i just didn’t care – the black dog was wimpering in the back ground – seeking attention – getting more demanding everyday – taking up more and more of my headspace and i didn’t have the energy to run which helps to keep him in his place.
(thanks to the web for the images)
“I don’t know how to tell you all just how crazy this life feels“
Then on July 21st a lifesaver – the Liberties Fun Run 6k – an evening race – i’m better in the evenings – not too far – thought i’d manage 6k even if i had to walk – a race i’ve run for the previous two years – a charity event – plus the promise of a dry evening.
33 minutes and 48 seconds – my slowest time in three years but i completed it and ran all the way – mind you the stomach cramps afterwards had me groaning like a weightlifter. And i met some friends – so it was a good day. The Liberties is an old area of Dublin and the race starts and finishes in the beautiful grounds of IMMA / Royal Hospital Kilmainham, and the route takes in some of the most famous sites throughout the Liberties including St James’s Gate, Francis Street and the Coombe.
The following Sunday, three days later, posed a proper test – the Fingal 10k – part of the Dublin Marathon race series and if i didn’t complete it then i’d definitely given up. The race was in Swords, a little town north of Dublin which i’d only visited once or twice before. It was a very humid morning but the sun was hidden behind the clouds – sometimes you appreciate an Irish summer. As usual, I was very early but strolled around and drank in the atmosphere. And then we were off – a couple of not-so-pleasant kilometres along the dual carraigeway and then we turned onto country lanes surrounded by the fertile fields of north county Dublin. At about the 8km mark, by which time the sun had come out, a couple of firefighters were on the side of the street with a firehose, creating a cool and most welcome mist. I ran through it, blowing kisses to the firefighters, and, refreshed in body and spirit, finished the race in a time of 1 hour 1 minute and 29 seconds – a 10k PB for me – what a surprise that was. I almost broke my target of a sub 1 hour 10k – but not quite – that remains for another day.
“Running on, running into the sun
But I’m running behind”
At last i was clocking up a few miles again but i was still so far off my planned training projectory that i might as well be training for a race in the next millennium.
Happy exhaustion lead to a few rest days. I had received a flyer for another 6k race the following Thursday – this time a trail race – in the grounds of Carton House in Maynooth – just west of Dublin and more famous as a golf course than a running venue. I signed up, the excitement of races seemingly the best way to get my weary carcase on the road again.
And it was a lovely race and i got to run in my trail running shoes and part of the course ran through the woods and it was about as good a running experience as it is possible to have. Tea and coffee, scones, cake and biscuits by the score awaited all the finishers – as, indeed, did a medal – finishing bling is such an important part of the whole running experience – especially when you are like me and unlikely to receive a winners medal in any form or shape.
And it was the Inaugural Race – i can resist many things but not an Inaugural Race. 36 minutes and 33 seconds – one of my most enjoyable and slowest 6k’s ever. Hopefully, they will run it again next year.
“Gotta do what you can just to keep your love alive
Trying not to confuse it with what you do to survive”
A rest day followed and then it was Saturday morning – parkrun day. The music revellers had long departed and the park was ours again. I ran, slowly, leadenly, painfully – but i ran. I did’nt actually realise how slowly i had ran until i got my official time – 28 minutes and 07 seconds – my slowest 5k of the year. I consoled myself with the knowledge that at least i was running.
“I don’t know about anyone but me
If it takes all night, that’ll be all right“
At least i was running.
Or rather not – the next day, Sunday, i was due to go to Dun Laoighaire, an eastern suburban town in Dublin, to pick up my number and tee-shirt for the Bay 10k the next day – Bank Holiday Monday. I decided to write that one off – i couldn’t imagine running 10k after my extreme exertions to complete the 5k parkrun.
A good night’s sleep is a wondrous thing though and i woke up early on Monday morning feeling good. A quick check of my computer confirmed that i could collect my number that morning and so i was off. The Bay 10k is another of my favourites, located as it is for part of the way along the seafront in Sandycover and Dun Laoighaire. Again, i was very early – perhaps if i didn’t suffer from this compulsive need to be early i might not suffer from IBS either – or at least not so irritably.
Collected my number and spent an hour or so visiting the various mobile toilets – my IBS was objecting to my change of mind.
“Running on, running on empty”
The Bay 10k is a hilly route – not one to achieve a PB on – even if you were in the full flush of your health – excuse the pun. 1 hour; 1 minute and 48 seconds later i crossed the Finish Line – a creditable performance indeed and one that left me suffering afterwards. Now with the coming and going of family and friends that Bank Holiday weekend, my sleep was shortened and my recovery interrupted and, starting from where i was, that had the predicatable result – sickness and sweating.
By the Friday morning, August 5th, i was ready to do a 5k training run with one of my daughters. My first training run since the middle of June. I felt good, ran easily, got home and fell asleep for two hours on the couch. Predictably, i was too sick the next morning to even attempt a parkrun – though my other daughter ran and ran a PB – more than compensated for my set backs.
“Look around for the friends that I used to turn to to pull me through
Looking into their eyes I see them running too“
Here i am, tired and sick – the black dog is back with a vengence, snarling and snapping at my heels. So i signed up for another race, another trail race in the grounds of Malahide Castle – tomorrow evening. The only downside is that it is 10k but i’ll try it and see. One day i’ll run a race and it will be so therapeutic that i will emerge like a Phoenix from the ashes of my health – renewed, reinvigoured and replenished.
I’ll let you know how i get on.
Just in case though, i’ve booked a medical examination for next week – time to find a solution to my health problems – especially if i’m going to run that marathon at the end of October!
“Honey you really tempt me
You know the way you look so kind
I’d love to stick around but I’m running behind
You know I don’t even know what I’m hoping to find
Running into the sun but I’m running behind”
With special thanks to all the organisers and to Jackson Browne and the lyrics of his beloved song, “Running On Empty”.
A friend, who can no longer run but who recently purchased a bike, told me that running for him was like imitating a washing machine. All his emotions and thoughts were stained, sometimes dirty and tangled at the start of a race but, by the end, everything was clean, white and shining. Therapy indeed.
Run safely my friends and mind your health.